Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: The world is one family


Written by Sulaiman Razvi
Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is translated as The world is one family. This is quite popular among Hindus. This is used to show that Hinduism believes in universal brotherhood. Hindus who proclaim Vasudhaiva Kumtumbakam can be classified into two groups. One who proclaims Vasudhaiva Kumtumbaka and really practices it, He/She doesn’t discriminate people based on caste or religion, and they see people of other religion and caste as fellow humans. I have no problem with regard to such Hindus and such Hindus should be appreciated. But I do have problem with the second group of Hindus who proclaims Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam only to show Hinduism as a good religion but on the other hands they dream of establishing a Hindu State via ethnic cleansing of minorities, discriminates the lower castes and tries to show affection towards lower caste only to use them against minorities in India.

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is not said by any god or Rishi Muni but by a foolish Brahmin. Then how can Hindus take it as a proof of Hinduism’s universal brotherhood? One may wonder how a religion like Hinduism can speak about universal brotherhood when it discriminates its own Shudra and Chandalas. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam first appeared in Panchatantra which is a collection of animal fables for children. And was lifted from here to Mahopanishad. And Hindus loves to quote Mahopanishad to add weight to their claim. So Hindus uses a sentence of Panchatantra (animal fables) spoken by a foolish Brahmin to show that Hinduism promotes the idea of universal brotherhood. This idea is not mentioned in any Veda, Smriti, Purana or Itihas. The fact that none of these scriptures espouses the idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam proves that this is rejected by Rishi Munis. There are four Vedas, 18 major Puranas, 18 minor Puranas, several Smritis, Ramayana and Mahabharata which constitutes roughly a million verses. But out of these million verses you find only one verse to show Hinduism promotes universal brotherhood that too from animal fables called Panchatantra? The story goes like, There were four Brahmin friends of which three were very learned. One of them resurrects a dead lion. The lion after being resurrected eats up three Brahmins including the foolish Brahmin who proclaims Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and the fourth one who was uneducated escapes. So Vishnu Sharma the author of Panchatantra is trying to show that only foolish thinks the whole world as one family. This is the short summary of the whole story. Of which only one sentence is cherry picked out of context by Hindus to prove their claim. A historian writes,
“The most common Sanskrit phrase quoted in this regard, often repeated at popular gatherings, is ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbaka’, Which means, ‘the world is one family’. This assertion is recited as a signature of Hindu benevolence towards others and is often used to promote a spirit of unconditional generosity towards others. The earliest occurrences of ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam’ are found in the Hitopadesa and the Panchatantra, which are collections of fables discussing practical situations in life through talking animals. These stories are meant as an entertaining educational aid for children, and their popularity has carried them to distant places across Asia and Europe.” Indra’s Net: Defending Hinduism’s, By Rajiv Malhotra, HarperCollins Publishers India, 14-Jan-2014
Now let’s evaluate how much universal brotherhood emanates from Hindu scriptures. Hindu scriptures prohibits a Dvija (twice-born) to reside in a country inhabited by Shudras,
Kurma Purana II.16.23-24 “On shall never stay in a village surrounded by unrighteous persons or afflicted by many pestilences. One shall never stay in the kingdom of a Sudra, or in a place inhabited by heretics. A Brahmana should not stay in any other except in the land between the mountains Himavan and the Vindhya and between the Eastern and Western oceans. [26-27] An excellent Brahmana shall not stay anywhere else except within half a Krosa of the holy river (1 Krosa=3 Km). He shall not stay near the village of the Sudras. He should not live in the same place with that of fallen castes, Candalas, Pukkasas, foolish fellows, arrogant persons, Sudras and the people of the lowliest castes called Antavasayins.” Tr. G.V. Tagare
Manu Smriti 4.61 Let him not dwell in a country where the rulers are Sudras, nor in one which is surrounded by unrighteous men, nor in one which has become subject to heretics, nor in one swarming with men of the lowest castes.
Manu Smriti 8.22. That kingdom where Sudras are very numerous, which is infested by atheists and destitute of twice-born (inhabitants), soon entirely perishes, afflicted by famine and disease.
Manu Smriti 2.21-24 That (country) which (lies) between the Himavat and the Vindhya (mountains) to the east of Prayaga and to the west of Vinasana (the place where the river Sarasvati disappears) is called Madhyadesa (the central region). But (the tract) between those two mountains (just mentioned), which (extends) as far as the eastern and the western oceans, the wise call Aryavarta (the country of the Aryans). That land where the black antelope naturally roams, one must know to be fit for the performance of sacrifices; (the tract) different from that (is) the country of the Mlekkhas (barbarians). Let twice-born men seek to dwell in those (above-mentioned countries); but a Sudra, distressed for subsistence, may reside anywhere.
Skanda Purana even recommends a person to reside in a kingdom ruled by a Vaishnavite (follower of Vishnu),
Skanda Purana II.v.11.23-24 “Bharadvaja said: Well asked, O highly fortunate one, since you are a devotee of Visnu. The earth that you protect, O king, is blessed. The subjects (governed by you) are good (blessed). One shall not stay in that kingdom where the king is not a Vaisnava. Better to stay in a forest or in a Tirtha but not in a realm where there are no Vaisnavas.” Tr. G.V. Tagare

Non-Hindus are called Maleccha, Yavana and Demons
Swami Vijnananda writes in Devi Bhagavatam 4.24 ”Yavana means a Greek, an Ionian; then any foreigner, or barbarian (the word is applied at present to a Mahomedan or a European also).’
Chanakya Niti Shastra 8.5 “The wise who discern the essence of things have declared that the yavana (meat eater) is equal in baseness to a thousand candalas the lowest class), and hence a yavana is the basest of men; indeed there is no one more base.”
Vayu Purana I.48.31 “Sankhadvipa is ruled as a single kingdom extending to a hundred Yojanas. It is the abode of many Mleccha tribes.” Tr. G.V. Tagare, edited by G.P. Bhatt
Ganesh Vasudeo Tagare writes, “Sankha-dvipa is Zangistan of Arab geographers. It represents a part of the eastern shore of Africa from Abyssinia to Madargascar.
It shows that non-Aryan foreign tribes who were considered Mleccha
People living outside Aryavarta were considered Maleccha, Nastika (Atheist), Yavana, Rakshasa etc,
Garuda Purana I.55.17 “The people in the West are Strirajyas (governed by women) Saindhavas, Mlecchas, Atheists, Yavanas, Mathuras and Naisadhas.” Tr. Board of Scholars, edited by J.L. Shastri

Swami Prabhupada writes: “…An atheist is called a demon, and it is a fact that even a person born of good parents can turn into a demon by bad association…” Swami Prabhupada on Srimad Bhagavatam 3.3.6
Apastamba Sutra, Prasna I, Patala 9, Khanda 27.11. The expression Krishna Varna, ‘the black race,’ is truly Vedic. In the Rig-veda it usually denotes the aboriginal races, and sometimes the demons.

Hindu leaders called Muslims as Demons and descendants of Ravana,
Now imagine if this had been said while scriptures were composed. Muslims would have been depicted as monsters with fiery looks, evil etc.
What I am trying to show is that in Hindu scriptures Demons (Rakshasa), Maleccha, Yavana were not some beings with monstrous looks but it referred to non-Hindus.
Swami Dayanand Saraswati wrote,
“The Dwijaas( the twice-born) – Braahmanaas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyaas are called Aryas, while the Shudras are called Anaryas, or Non-Aryas.”ATHARVA VEDA 19:62. In the face of these Vedic authorities how can sensible people believe in the imaginary tales of the foreigners. In the Devaasurawars, Prince Arjuna and King Dashratha and others of Aryavarta used to go to the assistance of the Aryas in order to crush the Asuras. This shows that the people living outside Aryavarta were called Dasyus and Malechhaas… Besides, Manu also corroborates our position. He says, “The countries other than Aryavarta are called Dasyus and Malechha countries.” MANU 10:45, 2:23. The people living in the north-east, north, north-west were called Rakshasas.” Satyarth Prakash, by Dayanand Saraswati, Ch 8, page 266, Tr. Chrinajiva Bhardwaja
If people living outside Aryavarta were called Dasyus, and people living in north-east and north-west were called Rakshasa (Demons) then where have they disappeared? Why don’t archaeologists find their fossils? Swami Dayanand has the answer for this he wrote,
“You can still see that the description of Raakshasas given therein tallies with the ugly appearance of the negroes of today.” Satyarth Prakash, by Dayanand Saraswati, Ch 8, page 266, Tr. Chrinajiva Bhardwaja
So he is comparing Rakshasa with present day Negroes (black people) we can ascertain from this line that people living in north east and north west were not really monsters but were native people who are described in such racist manner.
A fifteenth century Hindu scholar Chaitanya Mahaprabhu uses the term Maleccha to refer to Muslims. Historians also writes,
“In classical works the natives of the west were called Mlechchhas- Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Part 18 By James Hastings, p.581
“foreigners were regarded as Mlechchhas or unclean.” Indian Hist (Opt) By Reddy p.B106
“Other rulers, such as the Shakas who came from Central Asia, were regarded as mlechchhas [By Brahmins]
“In Somadeva’s Kathasaritsagara, mleccha refers to Muslims. He found it advisable not to have a contact with mleccha. Much earlier, the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad injected the Aryans from travelling ‘to the ends of the world’. Neither should one learn mleccha language, nor visit their lands. Dharmasastras suggested it was not even desirable that foreign barbarians should learn Sanskrit.” Aspects of India’s International relations, 1700 to 2000, p.544, By Jayanta Kumar Ray, Pearson Education India, 2007
Maleccha is translated as foreigner, barbarian. Even non-Hindu tribes living in Aryavarta were considered Anarya (non-Aryan), Maleccha etc,
Natya Shastra 13.151 “The Gait and movements of the men of different Mleccha tribes such as the Pulindas and the Sabaras should be made according to the lands they inhabit.
Pulindas was a tribe in modern day Madhya Pradesh this shows that Mleccha itself was not a tribe living outside Aryavarta but it referred to non-Hindus.
Hindu scriptures also talks about Kikata tribe which is modern day Bihar.
Nirukta 6.32 What are the cows doing in Kikata? Kikata is the name of a country where the non-Aryans dwell. Non-Aryan tribes are (so called because it is said),’What have they done? Or their assumption is that religious rites are useless. They neither get the milk to mix with the soma, nor kindle fire.
Association with Shudras and Malecchas is prohibited,
Padma Purana VII.14.1-10 “Vyasa said: A devotee of Visnu should devoutly worship the immutable Visnu along with the great Laksmi in Margasirsa, O best brahmana. So also he should not worship Visnu in a Mleccha region, in the house of a fallen person, or at a place full of bad odour, O best of Brahmana. He should not worship Visnu near the heretics or great sinners…” Tr. N.A. Deshpande
Brahmanda Purana 41 “Alliances and associations of the Sudras and Antyayonis (lowest born) with Brahmanas take place in the Kali Yuga, in regard to bed, seats and food stuffs.” Tr. G.V. Tagare
Kurma Purana I.30.6 “In Kaliyuga, the Sudras will have close association with the Brahmanas by the use of spells and incantations as well as through the sharing of beds, seats and food.” Tr. G.V. Tagare
It is also prohibited to travel to Maleccha countries,
Sankha Samhita 15.4 “A wise man should not celebrate a Sraddha ceremony either in a Mlechchha country, or at dawn, evening or night. He should not visit even a Mlechchha country.” Tr. Manmatha Nath Dutt
Vishnu Smriti 84.1-4 “Let not a man do a Sraddhay ceremony in a country of the barbarians. Let him not go to a country of the Barbarians…The country, in which there exists not the division of the four-fold social order, should be regarded as a country of the barbarians, otherwise it is Aryavarta (the land of the Aryas).” Tr. Manmatha Nath Dutt
Baudhyana Dharma Shastra Prasna 1, Adhyaya 1, Kandika 2.11-16 Now the Bhâllavins quote also the (following) verse: ‘In the west the boundary-river, in the east the region where the sun rises,–as far as the black antelopes wander (between these two limits), so far spiritual pre-eminence (is found).’ The inhabitants of Avantî, of Aṅga, of Magadha, of Surâshtra, of the Dekhan, of Upâvrit, of Sindh, and the Sauvîrâs are of mixed origin. He who has visited the (countries of the) Ârattas, Kâraskaras, Pundras, Sauvîras, Vaṅgas, Kaliṅgas, (or) Prânûnas shall offer a Punastoma or a Sarvaprishthâ (ishti). Now they quote also (the following verses): ‘He commits sin through his feet, who travels to the (country of the) Kaliṅgas. The sages declare the Vaisvânarî ishti to be a purification for him. ”Even if many offences have been committed, they recommend for the removal of the sin the Pavitreshti. For that (sacrifice) is a most excellent means of purification.’
Sankha Samhita 14.4 A wise man should not celebrate a S’raddha ceremony either in a Mlechchha country, or at dawn, evening or night. He should not visit even a Mlechchha country.
Vishnu Smriti 64.14 And not speak with a member of any Mlechchha or low caste.
Kalki avatar kills many tribes,
Brahmanda Purana “In the previous Svayambhuva Manvantara, he had been born of a part of Madhava (Visnu). For a full period of twenty years, he wandered over the Earth taking with him an army along with horses, chariots and elephants. Surrounded by hundreds and thousands of Brahmanas wielding weapons, he killed all the Mlecchas all round along with those kings, the heretics born of Sudra women. The lord exterminates those heretics. Everywhere he kills all those who are not scrupulously religious. The lord who was strong and who annihilated all the Mlecchas slew these also People who were born of parents of different castes, those who depended on them, the Udicyas (Notherners), Madhya Desyas (Persons of middle lands), Parvatiyas (Mountain-dweller), Pracyas (Easterners), Praticyas (Westerners), those who talk about on the ridges of the Vindya mountains, Daksinatyas (Southerners), Dravidas along with Simhalas (Ceylonese), Gandhara, Paradas, Pahlavas, Yavanas, Sakas, Tusaras. Barbaras, Cinas (Chinese), Sulikas, Daradas, Khasas, Lampa-karas, Katakas and different tribes of Kiratas. The powerful lord wielding the discuss slew all these barbarous people.” Tr. G.V. Tagare
Question is, were all tribes engaged in sinful activities that Kalki kills all of them? Gandhara is modern day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan, everyone is aware of Cina (Chinese), and many other tribes are traceable.
Hindus cites one more verse, “ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti”. In expressing religious tolerance, Hindus sometimes cite the above verse to assert that all religions are the same. In reality, all religions are not the same, nor is that indicated by this verse. Let’s read the full verse which is taken from Rig Veda,
इन्द्रं मित्रं वरुणमग्निमाहुरथो दिव्यः स सुपर्णो गरुत्मान |
एकं सद विप्रा बहुधा वदन्त्यग्निं यमं मातरिश्वानमाहुः ||
Rig Veda 1.164.46 “They have styled (Him, God or the sun) Indra (the resplendent), Mitra (the surveyor), Varuna (the venerable), Agni (the adorable, and he is the celestial, well-winged garutmat (the great), for learned priests call one by many names as they speak of the adorable as yama (ordainer) and matarisvan (cosmic breath).” Tr. Svami Satya Prakash Sarasvati
As you can see, it nowhere speaks about tolerance to other religions rather it’s about the superiority of one god which is the Sun according to Sayana. This verse is also used by some to show monotheism in Vedas which is inappropriate. It is about tolerance within Hinduism which says that all Vedic deities like Indra, Agni, Varuna, Mitra etc are all worthy of worship since they are different channels flowing to the same river (Vedic religion).

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